Lecture Twenty The Communitys Worship

Scope: One of the most important ways in which religion organizes existence is through ritual activity that establishes (or reveals) sacred time and space. Ritual activity in the earliest stage of Christianity was relatively simple: Sacred space was nonexistent; sacred time was simply the "Lord's Day." In the New Testament, we catch glimpses of baptism, Eucharist, kinship language, foot-washing, the holy kiss. Some worship gatherings gave opportunity for teaching, ecstatic speech, and prophecy. We are able to postulate activities of reading and teaching in the community. The Didache shows an early second-century form of worship. Liturgy develops organically, with a strong influence exercised by Jewish synagogal worship. In the fourth century, Christian worship expands in response to the time and space allotted it by imperial favor and begins to create the elaborate sanctification of time known as the liturgical year and the sacramental system.

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